Empirical evidence for the continuing need to 'think small first' in UK company law

Jonny Hardman, Guillem Ramirez Santos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The most recent UK corporate law restatement has its stated aim to ‘think small first’ in company law legislation. This article is the first to use data science and imaging techniques to provide an empirical snapshot of the entire UK corporate database. It identifies the continuing need to think small first: most companies are small when tested by corporate type (public v private) and type of accounts publicly filed. We then factor in time series (which evidences that most companies are newer and smaller companies) and geography (which evidences London-centricity in registered office). This article then identifies the implications of this novel empirical analysis. First, corporate law analysis tends to ‘think big first’, and will either need to justify such an approach or change it. Second, London is dominant in respect of the registered offices of companies, but the proportion of larger companies based there is also the largest in the UK. Third, a large number of companies provide no public financial information due to inherent timelag. The sheer scale of new companies challenges this approach. Fourth, the UK should provide a corporate governance framework for smaller companies. Fifth, the UK’s corporate accounting regime thinks small first in substance, but its form needs to be simplified to truly think small first. Sixth, whilst more mortgages were granted by smaller companies, larger companies granted more mortgages per company: so arguably corporate finance bucks the trend for the need to think small first.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages49
JournalEuropean Business Organization Law Review
Early online date11 Aug 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Aug 2022


  • company law
  • corporate law
  • empirical methodology
  • think small first


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